So this is Monday and the world has slipped a disc and this Advent has tried to press in quietly between the lines of dissonance and aggravation. Disappointment and frustration and fear and anger and shouting matches and unfriending and blocking and folding in on ourselves all seem to be the order of the day. We try to guard our children from the worst of it and so we bundle up and make our way to the mall and to Santa and we return home to the baking of cookies and the watching of endless holiday movies under quilts and snuggled next to tiny bodies on the couch. We Instagram the good stuff.
We mark time through the longest night in history and I try to pray the hours through the night as loved ones labor in their sleep and through the dark and into rain-drenched mornings. I want to be open to this, because, for what it’s worth, I believe this is Advent. This groaning and wondering and questioning if God has overlooked us or forgotten us or left us to our own devices? I am not so confident in our own devices, if I must be honest. I have seen the result of them, right here under my very own roof, and out there in the world.
I want to start a clothing drive, but instead of clothes, I want us to step down off our soapboxes and use our bare hands to rend the wooden planks apart and throw them on the fire in the fireplace. That’s where they will crackle and send forth warmth and beckon us to gather close to let the heat sink in. The soapbox makes so many of us recoil and we leave the broken bread and the wine on the table. Untouched. Because the table lost its welcome when the voices drowned out the still, small voice of God.
Transformation is the byproduct of Advent. We see the wrong in what we’ve called right and we set our hearts in a different direction, the one that makes a weary world rejoice. And we are weary, aren’t we? Or, maybe that’s just me. Maybe I’m the only whose inner resolve has dissolved and gone limp and surrendered to the truth that Jesus came to earth because we needed him to. We still do.
We need him to disrupt the status quo. In retrospect, it’s easy to look at the pictures in the history books and point our fingers at all the places humanity got it wrong. The brave ones wonder: “Would I have been on the right side of history, if I’d been around back then?” Our world is writing history right now, and we have a chance to try to get it right. To quiet our hearts and our defense of our “side” and to step down off those battered boxes we’ve been toting around. We can reach our hands out to the fire. Eat the bread. Drink the wine. Confess our sin and admit our need for a savior.
Transformation is the byproduct of Advent. Christ shows up on the scene and, if we’re paying attention, and if our hearts are quietly open, we won’t be the same after we’ve encountered him. He shows us the holes in our arguments and he points out the ways we’ve been propping ourselves up with temporal accoutrements.
This is Monday, and the world has slipped a disc and this Advent has pressed in quietly between the lines of dissonance and aggravation. Christ has come and he is with us. He is not confounded or surprised to find us so off kilter and so needy. He is not turned off by us. The invitation stands, but he is not here to rescue us out of this mess. Christ delivers us through, and the weary world rejoices.
Some questions for you: What is it about babies that bring us so much joy? What brings you hope, here at the end of 2014? What has sent you running from the table of communion? What might be the fire that draws someone in? Have we been standing on too many soapboxes?